Friday, February 23, 2018
Sports

Win would put Williams in elite company

HOUSTON — North Carolina is one win from a sixth national championship. Roy Williams is one win from joining coaching royalty.

Only five men have won more than two national championships. All are in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

A win tonight over Villanova would vault Williams, who won titles in 2005 and 2009, into the group that includes John Wooden (10), Mike Krzyzewski (five), Adolph Rupp (four), Bob Knight and Jim Calhoun (three each).

"I've never had that thought. I really haven't," Williams said Sunday. "You know, that's company that is off the charts. But what I'd really, really love is for these guys … to get their first one. That would mean a heck of a lot more to me than any of that other stuff."

Williams, who will coach in his fifth national championship game — third with the Tar Heels — has always projected humility during a 28-year coaching career at Kansas and North Carolina that landed him in the Hall of Fame in 2007.

Marcus Paige, North Carolina's senior guard who gave a speech on senior night that had Williams in tears, knows his coach well.

"He probably spends zero time thinking about his legacy and stuff like that," Paige said Sunday. "That's just the kind of guy he is. He loves coaching his team and he puts all his time and his effort and his thought into how he can help us."

HIELD, WRIGHT HONORED: Oklahoma senior G Buddy Hield won the James A. Naismith Trophy as the nation's top college player.

The award presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club was announced a day after Hield was held to nine points in the Sooners' 95-51 loss to Villanova in a national semifinal game.

Villanova's Jay Wright, whose Wildcats play North Carolina tonight for the national championship, was named the Naismith coach of the year for the second time. He joined three-time winners John Calipari and Krzyzewski as the only coaches to win the award multiple times.

SURGERY FOR COACH K: Duke's Krzyzewski is recovering from knee replacement surgery. Krzyzewski, 69, had surgery at Duke University Hospital. The school said in a news release that he could be released within three days and will begin a rehabilitation program.

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